Wednesday, 18 December 2019
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
Everyone writes the service plan after it is known how much funding is available for it. However, I do not disagree with Deputy Pringle. Of course we will have problems and challenges in the health service next year, just as we have had in every previous year, and just as every other country does too.
As Deputy Pringle pointed out some of the difficulties we will face next year, it would be remiss of me not to point out some of the positive things that will happen next year. We will see two new hospitals open in Ireland next year: the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dún Laoghaire and the national forensic mental health campus in Portrane. We will see three major extensions open: the Dunmore wing in Waterford, the new wing in Limerick and the new wing in Clonmel as well. We will see healthcare become more affordable for many more people. Seven and eight year olds will get free GP care. More people over 70 will get a medical card and prescription charges will go down for everyone. We will see patient outcomes continue to improve. More people will survive stroke next year. More people will survive a heart attack next year, and we will continue to see improvements in cancer survival, which are already better now than in the NHS, and I believe in the next couple of years will exceed the European average.
We will also see waiting lists continue to fall. We have seen the waiting lists for outpatient appointments fall for four months in a row. It took years of investment and effort to get there but we have got there. The waiting times for people waiting for operations have been falling for approximately two years. The number of people waiting more than 12 weeks for a hip replacement or a knee replacement, or for cataract, angiogram, vein and tonsil appointments is half what it was when I became Taoiseach. We will have lots of problems and we will deal with them, but we will also see lots of improvements too. Let us acknowledge them because at the very least we should be respectful to the staff in our health service who work so hard to deliver those improvements.